Tag Archives: East New Britain

Environmental failure at Wild Dog mine

Traditional Baining Fire Dance

Alois Balar | Post Courier | 23 April 2019

Beyond reasonable doubt, the element of environmental risk was present in both the exploration and development stages of the Wild Dog mine.

This mine was developed at the very summit of the highest peak in ENB with the presence of this significant environmental risk, and to the detriment of the livelihoods of the people at the foot of Mt Sinivit as well as within its vicinity and right down to the coast. What rational justification was used by the (relevant government agencies) and the landowners to agree for the mine to be developed given the geographical risk to the river systems?

Mineral deposits in the mining lease area comprised of the oxide and the sulphide zones both of which were not technically viable to be developed at such steep slopes with very high loss of height. Juxtaposed against these is a high mountain backdrop (with huge physical divides) that forms the catchment of the river systems on all sides. These areas contain critical ecosystems and life support systems. The mine heap-leach areas were pitched on narrow patches of no more than 20sq m, at most, in both zones, with no fenders, that were susceptible to climate extremes.

This mine was developed on “persistence in error” by the developer who refused to draw inference from negative signs and technicalities. The developer should have waylaid the “sunk-cost effect” in favour of the critical environment.

It is very disturbing that the (relevant government agencies) have been sitting on this environmental problem since the developer abandoned the mine during its operation.

The cyanide heap-leach method should never have been allowed to be used up there by the developer. The developer abandoned huge open pits, heaps, and the ponds of cyanide which are a risk to the whole environment. Some of these heaps and ponds have cracks caused by earthquakes.

The recent rains caused the cyanide vets to overflow into the drains that fed the sources of streams and creeks that tributed to the two large rivers of Nengmutka and Rapmarini which are major tributaries of Waragoi river.

Once the toxics leak, it can result in total collapse of ecosystems and life support systems that are being used by the people(I don’t want to mention the deadly strength of cyanide against the volume of water in the rivers) . This mine was at a critical location and dangerously and carelessly developed out of economic greed.

Five long years have lapsed after the developer left with evidently nothing done to date to contain the leakage risk. These relevant government agencies have just woken up from their slumber to sanction a disaster and environmental assessment to be carried out.

The funds being spent on rebuilding the road up to the mine to enable the assessment to be carried out could have been spent on other impassable roads in the Bainings).Is this how long bureaucratic red tape can last in our government system, even if it meant so many people dead from a cyanide disaster over five years?

This kind of irrational behaviour by govt agencies could prove fatal for the communal environment and costly to the lives of the people. The lack of action by government agencies has resulted in people(men, women, and children) risking their lives by going up there to the mine site(after the developer left) to take whatever is useful to them, thus having direct contact with cyanide and
other toxic chemicals.

Leach pad liners were even taken by people, posing serious risks to themselves! The government’s complacency and ignorance of problem risks and for taking no leakage deterrent measures conjures up the reality of its ignorance of the height of thresholds for pain of the people and the environment when inflicted for economic reasons other than for their own benefit and upkeep.

Government agencies must ensure economic development is balanced against the natural environment, not the other way around! This is an aspect of sustainable development!.

The problem at Wild Dog is not ISEP, rather, it is everybody’s. And I’d rather the so-called Sinivit Mine Landowners Association stops talking about mine reopening and look more closely at ensuring the sustainability of the sources that support the livelihoods of its members and make sure these sources are not compromised.

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Sinivit Landowners Call For Audit Into Mine Operations

Post Courier | March 19, 2019

The Sinivit Mine Landowners Association is calling on the East New Britain provincial government to fund an independent audit into the operations of the abandoned Sinivit gold mine.

The developer, New Guinea Gold Limited abandoned the project in September 2014 after blaming the government and the Mineral Resources Authority for not quickly renewing their mining licence.

It is understood MRA had notified the company to return and rectify safety and environmental issues related to the Sinivit project but this has not eventuated.

Chairman Douglas Augustine said a submission was given to the provincial government in August last year requesting an independent audit to be conducted on the mine.

He said before any mining project can be re-opened, an audit must be done to establish how much was generated by the mining operations in the past and who benefited from those funds.

Mr Augustine said currently there is an environmental issue where some of the 29 abandoned vats used to extract gold and other minerals at the mine site were further damaged by heavy rain and flooding, with potential chemical contamination into nearby rivers of Warangoi and Nengmutka.

“Right now most of those vats near the cliff have collapsed and I appeal to communities near the two rivers not to use it too much as it is not safe,” he said.

Therefore he urged the provincial government and its administration to fast track an investigation or audit, so that any such issues are addressed before the mining project can be re-opened.

The landowners say they are not against the planned re-opening of the mine, but want an audit and report to be tabled first before the mine can be re-opened.

The office of the ENB Governor in response said the Minister for Mining will officially visit the mine soon to determine the next course of action.

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Landowners oppose Sinivit mine reopening

Pollution from the mothballed Sinivit gold mine

Hosea Kaelam | 9 September 2018

In respond to the news politicians want the Sinivit gold mine reopened, we the principle landowners of the Uramat Incorporated Land Group opposes the idea of the ENB leaders until all the environmental issues are addressed.

Also the leaders are not utilizing the ILG’S set out by the National Government as per Land Amendment Act ( 2009 ) in negotiating development in the customary land.

We the people of the Uramat ILG are against the leaders idea of re opening the mine.

There should be compensation first the the landowners for all the chemical pollution.

As per the environmental report the treatment pond for cyanide and other chemicals used at the mine contained 20 parts per million of chemicals while the vats contain 20 parts per million as well. This is very high concentration and people’s life are at risk. The permitted safe environment content is 5 parts per million. This is a slap on the face for state agencies to neglect this issue as if there is no government for the people.

Yet leaders are pushing for the re opening of the mine without the consent of the indigenous customary and registered and gazetted land group. Let us solve the environmental issue but the mine won’t be re open

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New Britain to be excluded from Solwara 1 benefit sharing

Coastal communities in East New Britain will be just as heavily impacted as any in New Ireland by the proposed Solwara 1 Experimental Seabed Mine, but the government is excluding the Province from any benefits sharing…

Coastal Area Benefit for offshore mining projects
Cedric Patjole | PNG Loop | October 3, 2017

The Department of Mineral Policy and Geohazards Management has created the concept of Coastal Area Benefit as the benefit sharing agreement instrument for offshore mining projects.

Department of Mineral Policy and Geohazards Management Secretary, Harry Kore, says the concept was developed out of sentimental attachment locals have with the sea as a resource for their livelihood.

The CAB concept will be first implemented across several wards adjacent to the Solwara 1 Deep Sea Mine Project in New Ireland Province.

Secretary Kore said the CAB, as per its structure, is implemented with a ward that is directly opposite the offshore project.

However, the CAB can be extended to three more wards on both sides of the first ward, bringing in a maximum of seven wards as allowed under the Offshore Policy.

“The seven wards is the maximum, if there is only two or if there’s only one then those are the only wards that benefit. But if there is more than that is as far as we can go.”

The Coastal Area Benefit concept will be first introduced in seven wards along the West Coast of New Ireland Province.

They cover 22 villages and a population of over 8,000 people.

While the CAB for the New Irelanders is yet to be finalised, Secretary Kore says the concept aims to capture the locals’ attachment to the sea.

“Customarily we own the sea as well, but it’s communally owned by everybody in a particular area. And people have right of way to pass through your area for fishing or for customary activities out at sea, like shark callers.”

The offshore policy is one of the new policy developments contained in the revised Mining Act, which is yet to be endorsed by the National Executive Council.

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Nautilus finally admits ‘limited benefits in Solwara One project’

Post Courier | October 1, 2017

Given that there will be minimal spin-off benefits to landowners as a result of the world’s first deep sea mine, the developer says it will heavily focus on its community service obligation.

The issue of benefits has been one of the main concerns of the leaders of both New Ireland and East New Britain who were in Port Moresby last week to witness the trials being conducted on the Nautilus Minerals Inc’s mining equipment .

For the ENB delegation the issue had been raised by Florence Paisparea who is the forest and environmental coordinator of the ENB provincial administration.

Nautilus Minerals Inc vice president for the Papua New Guinea operations, Adam Wright said unlike the traditional land-based mines, the foot print of the Solwara One project, would be quite small and likewise the benefits.

Mr Wright said employment would be limited as the firm will be employing about 200 people compared to Newcrest Lihir’s 3000.

He said other spin-off business would also be limited as its operations would be out at sea and there would not need services including buses, security and laundry services all associated with the land-based mines.

Mr Wright said it had already begun implementing this project especially in the coastal areas along the West Coast of New Ireland in the coastal areas of benefits (CAB) ahead of production.

Mr Wright told the leaders from ENB the firm would be delivering its first project-a community health post on Wotum Island by the year’s end.

He said apart from health, education, infrastructure development, and business development would be other focus areas.

“What we want to do is help generate businesses that will still be going once we are gone. We are looking at areas of cocoa and copra and trying to help people rehabilitate plantations and get those industries running.

Royalty was stated as another benefit, which Mr Wright said would be paid when the company begins production.

He said from discussions held, the intention is to have that distributed down to the local level government level.
Mr Wright said there is already a draft agreement, which once finalised would be signed off.

He added that this is the agreement that will address all these issues.

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Experimental Seabed Mining and the Controversial Solwara 1 Project in Papua New Guinea

The Deep Sea Mining Campaign is a collaboration of organizations and citizens from Papua New Guinea, Australia and Canada concerned with the likely impacts of deep sea mining on marine and coastal ecosystems and communities.

Peter Neill – Director, World Ocean Observatory | Huffington Post | July 11, 2017

It has been some time since we’ve reflected on the issue of deep sea mining — the search for minerals of all types on the ocean floor. We have seen already how marine resources are being over-exploited — over-fishing by international fisheries being the most egregious example, mining for sand for construction projects and the creation of artificial islands, the exploitation of coral reefs and certain marine species for medical innovations and the next cure for human diseases based on understanding and synthesis of how such organisms function.

The Deep Sea Mining Campaign, an organization based in Australia and Canada, has been following the saga of Solwara 1, proposed by Nautilus Inc. for offshore Papua New Guinea that continues to seek financing year after year since 2011. The project is basically a kind of corporate speculation premised on the lucrative idea of the availability of such minerals conceptually in the region — indeed the company has declined to conduct a preliminary economic study or environmental risk assessment, the shareholders essentially engaged in a long odds probability wager comparable to those who invested in marine salvagers attempts to find and excavate “pay-ships” lost at sea with purported vast cargos of silver and gold. The idea that they should be required to justify their endeavors to governments, third-world or otherwise, or to coastwise populations whose livelihood and lives depend on a healthy ocean from which they have harvested for centuries, is anathema.

Deep Sea Mining recently reported on the recent Nautilus Annual General Meeting where CEO Michael Johnston was asked:

· Is it true that without the normal economic and feasibility studies, the economic viability of Solwara 1 is unknown?

· Is it true that the risk to shareholders of losing their entire investment in Nautilus is high and the potential returns promoted by Nautilus are entirely speculative?

· Is this why Nautilus is struggling to obtain the investment to complete the construction of its vessel and equipment?

According to the release, Johnston declined to have his responses recorded and evaded providing clear answers. He did, however, affirm the description accuracy of the Solwara 1 project in the Annual Information Forms as a ‘high’ and ‘significant’ risk.

Local communities are also not interested in the Nautilus experiment. In recent weeks, two large forums against the Solwara 1 deep sea mining project in the Bismarck Sea have been held in New Ireland and East New Britain provinces of Papua New Guinea. Supported by the Catholic Bishops and Caritas Papua New Guinea , both forums called for the halt of the Solwara 1 project and a complete ban on seabed mining in Papua New Guinea and the Pacific. Here are some comments from those meetings:

Patrick Kitaun, Caritas PNG Coordinator:

“The Bismarck Sea is not a Laboratory for the world to experiment with seabed mining. Our ocean is our life! We get all our basics from the ocean so we need to protect it. We will not allow experimental seabed mining in Papua New Guinea. It must be stopped and banned for good.”

Jonathan Mesulam of the Alliance of Solwara Warriors:

“Nautilus, we are not guinea pigs for your mining experiment! We in the Pacific are custodians of the world’s largest ocean. These oceans are important to us as sources of food and livelihoods. They are vital for our culture and our very identity. In New Ireland Province, we are only 25 km away from the Solwara 1 site. It is right in the middle of our traditional fishing grounds. We will stand up for our rights!”

Vicar General, Father Vincent Takin of the Diocese of Kavieng:

“In order, for any development to take place, the people must be the object of development and not subject to it. The people have not been fully informed about the impacts of Solwara 1 on the social, cultural, physical and spiritual aspects of their lives. Therefore they cannot give their consent.”

Nautilus Inc. does not appear to be major international energy company with the assets available to force this project forward as others might. The opposition is well organized and vocal with arguments and expectations that the company cannot overcome. We hope. As with offshore oil exploration alongshore and it the deep ocean, this project is isolated in an opposing political context and shifting market. It is not for this time, for these people in these places, who have no concern for the loss of the `stranded assets of invisible gamblers in the face of the gain of conserving and sustaining their ocean resources for local benefit and the future.

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Government acts too late over Sinivit mine pollution

sinivit

MRA allowed New Guinea Gold to abandon the Sinivit mine in 2014

MRA tells firm to clean up mine
Elizabeth Vuvu | The National aka The Loggers Times
THE Mineral Resources Authority has told a Canadian company to come and clean up the Sinivit mine in East New Britain it had abandoned.
New Guinea Gold Limited abandoned the East New Britain gold project in September 2014 after blaming the Government and the authority “for not quickly renewing our mining lease”.
MRA managing director Philip Samar told The National that they had notified the company to return and rectify safety and environment issues related to the Sinivit project.
Samar said they had told New Guinea Gold Ltd that it was their responsibility to clean up their mess at the mine site.
“Under the Mining Act, the company still has a mining lease that has not been cancelled,” he said. 
“Therefore, New Guinea Gold remains responsible to ensure all mining and environment regulations are complied with and safety measures are followed.
“As the mining lease holder, it needs to be responsible and cannot shift the blame here and there.”
 He said the company responded by blaming the State and the Mineral Resources Authority for not acting quickly on its mining lease.
“These unsubstantiated and misplaced claims by the tenement holder did not change New Guinea Gold’s social and regulatory obligations to fully maintain the mine. 
Samar said the company had not lodged any application with the MRA to have the mine placed in a “care and maintenance” phase. 
He said production had stopped but the site would continue to be managed safely and responsibly to ensure the mine’s security and stability.
“There is a process to follow and you cannot just walk away after giving us a letter,” Samar said.
“It is a legal requirement that a formal application is submitted.
“Mines are not tuckerboxes and companies who operate them must ensure they have the sources to maintain these mines.”
The Sinivit mine is currently under a renewal application for a new 10-year term.
That application was with the Minister for Mining for a final determination in accordance with the Mining Act process and a National Court order issued in February 2014.
There were reports that when the Sinivit mine was abandoned, locals looted and vandalised everything at the mine, including explosives and chemicals. 
Reports had surfaced of chemicals from the abandoned vats flowing into the Warangoi River. Meanwhile, provincial authorities had warned the people of Dadul, Riet and Uramot to stay clear of the mine site.

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